All of the recent controversy around the ban on Partial-Birth Abortions, as recently upheld by the Supreme Court, has gotten me thinking.
The procedure is technically known as Intact Dilation and Extraction (ID&E). For those who have not yet had the misfortune to hear how this gruesome procedure works, this is a form of late-term abortion where the fetus—so far developed that any reasonable person might well consider it a “baby”—is partially born, breeched, with the exception of the head. The brain is then evacuated so the head can be collapsed, and a dead but otherwise intact fetus is fully extracted.
It’s gruesome, to be sure. And I find no mystery in the desire to ban the procedure outright. The Constitutionalist in me says that the Federal government has no jurisdiction here (even if one maintains that abortion is murder, murder is not a Federal crime under the Constitution), but state bans are certainly understandable.
But there is something that completely mystifies me: the regular Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) procedure is not banned by the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. In this procedure, the fetus is actually dismembered inside the uterus and removed in pieces. The gruesomeness of ID&E pales by comparison. So why would ID&E be banned and not the regular D&E?
Not only that, when pro-life activists argue about ID&E being used on a living fetus, they claim that it is being done for the convenience of the mother, so that a baby won’t interfere with her career, or whatever. But there’s one big reason why that argument makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
The reason the ID&E procedure was introduced to begin with was to be an alternative to D&E that leaves a fully-intact body behind, that the parents can hold and grieve over and bury. That hardly sounds like the callous disregard for the fetus that the pro-life activists claim!
Also, we’re left with the absurd conclusion that dismembering the fetus before extraction is legal, medically acceptable, and safe, whereas leaving the fetus’s body intact isn’t.
I’ll be honest: I really don’t know where a reasonable person should be on the abortion debate. I fully agree that there’s no real difference between a baby 5 minutes after birth and a fetus 5 minutes before, but at the same time I just can’t intellectually apply this reasoning to a zygote or an embryo, those being of little difference to the separate cells that combined to create them. That means that there should be a point along the way where one draws the line, but where? The trimesters are arbitrary, and fetuses often develop at different rates anyway.
The only conclusion I can come to is that government should stay out of it. Government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed, and there is clearly no consent here one way or the other. The ridiculous conclusions I illustrated above are another reason why government cannot be relied upon to come up with any reasonable solution.
Not only that, but the government’s War on Poverty has increased both the rate of people going into poverty and the length of time they stay there; the War on Drugs hasn’t dropped the addiction rates at all, caused the usage rates to go up, and increased crime and police
corruption due to the black market it created. With this track record, if the government were to instigate a War on Abortion, then within five years even men would be having abortions!
If nothing else, the horror of the back-alley abortionist would come back to plague us, and there’s no evidence that the number of abortions would go down, either.
But maybe, just maybe, getting the government out of the adoption business would make an efficient free market in adoptions. Who would want to put a child in the adoption system as it exists today, where so few children are actually adopted, and the rest relegated to foster homes, many of whom become abused? With more children adopted, adoption might be a more desirable option for a young mother—and then her baby, growing up in a stable home environment, would be less likely to have an unwanted pregnancy herself as she grows up.
And maybe, just maybe, a smaller Libertarian government, small enough to repeal the Income Tax and get rid of the Inflation Tax, would result in her being better able to care for
the child on her own. Also, with more parents being able to stay at home, and more families in a better socioeconomic condition, their children would also be less likely to have unwanted pregnancies as well.
These wouldn’t eliminate abortions, but I can see them doing nothing other than reducing the number of them. And shouldn’t that be the goal? So the solution, as always, is not more government but more freedom.
Funny how often it seems to work out that way.
This was submitted to Lincoln Times-News but never published.